Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Joy of Sax

The world’s first saxophone band in 1870
There are certain things that seem as if they've been around forever and it never crossed my mine that at some point there was a person who invented it.

The saxophone, my favorite instrument, is one of those things and of course, there was someone who invented it, 164 years ago this past Monday to be exact.

From Wired...
1846: Emerging from his Paris workshop, musician-inventor Adolphe Sax files 14 patents for an instrument destined to revolutionize American music nearly a century later. His new invention: the saxophone.

Initially crafted from wood, Sax’s instruments flared at the tip to form a music-amplifying bell. Designed in seven sizes from sopranino to contrabass, the saxophone combined the easy fingering of large woodwinds with the single-reed mouthpiece of a clarinet.

Although the saxophone quickly became popular with French army bands, the Belgian-born Sax spent decades in court trying to fend off knockoffs and made only meager profits before his patents expired in 1866.  U.S. production began in 1888 when Charles Gerard Conn of Elkhart, Indiana, started manufacturing the instruments for military bands.
The saxophone became a creative tool of the first magnitude only in the early 1920s, when New Orleans clarinet player Sidney Bechet grew weary of being drowned out by his bandmate’s much-louder cornet and switched to the soprano sax.

Musical pioneer, Sidney Bechet blowing the Adolphe Sax's invention in France in '58...

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